24 November 2014 Sharland
I still have arthritis in my left toe I am stricken with gout. But I manage to get to do the housework and Sharland comes to call.
Mary’s back much better today, breakfast weight down fish for tea and her tummy pain is still there but decreasing.
Squadron Leader Terry Bulloch was a bomber pilot known as ‘The Bull’ who was the leading U-boat hunter of the Battle of the Atlantic
Squadron Leader Terry Bulloch in front of his Liberator aircraft
7:25PM GMT 23 Nov 2014
Squadron Leader Terry Bulloch, who has died aged 98, was a pilot in Coastal Command who made the greatest number of sightings and attacks against German U-boats during the Battle of the Atlantic. By the end of the war he had been credited with sinking four, twice the number by any other pilot.
Due to the lack of long-range aircraft in 1941 and early 1942, sinkings of Allied shipping by German U-boats in the mid-Atlantic had reached alarming proportions. The introduction into RAF service of the American-built B-24 Liberator finally closed this “Atlantic Gap” and gave added protection to the essential convoys sailing from North American ports to the United Kingdom.
In December 1942, Bulloch, known throughout Coastal Command as “The Bull”, was in charge of a small detachment of No 120 Squadron in Iceland and, by this time, he had already developed a reputation as one of the most determined and successful U-boat hunters. On December 8, he and his crew took off from Reykjavik in their Liberator to fly a convoy patrol; 16 hours later they landed after one of the most remarkable operational wartime flights by an RAF aircraft — its like would never be repeated.
Two large convoys had left Halifax in Nova Scotia and were approaching an area where naval intelligence estimated that a U-boat “Wolf Pack” of 14 submarines was lurking in wait (post-war analysis established that there were 22). Bulloch intercepted convoy HX 217 and took up a position astern to counter a known U-boat tactic of shadowing a convoy whilst others from the pack converged.
The weather was poor but Bulloch’s amazing eyesight picked up the wake of a surfaced U-boat and he dived to attack. The submarine commenced a crash dive but it was too late and Bulloch straddled it with six depth charges. There was a great upheaval of water and oil, wreckage and bodies soon floated to the surface. A Norwegian Navy corvette escorting the convoy investigated and confirmed the sinking.
Soon after this success, Bulloch spotted two more U-boats and he attacked one with his two remaining depth charges forcing the submarine to dive. This was Bulloch’s twenty-second sighting of a U-boat (he had attacked twelve) far more than most squadrons had achieved, or ever did. However, this unique flight was not over.
Before it was time for him to depart, Bulloch and his crew sighted another five submarines. With no depth charges remaining, he dived and attacked each with his four Hispano 20mm cannons. On every occasion he forced the submarines to dive and abandon their attacks.
Squadron Leader Terry Bulloch, seated centre, with his outstanding Liberator crew
A second Liberator arrived to relieve Bulloch and it continued the attacks forcing five more U-boats to dive. The attackers had been thrown into disarray and their positions revealed to the escorting naval forces who engaged them. Just two of the 90 ships were lost from the convoys.
Bulloch was awarded a Bar to a DSO that had been gazetted four weeks earlier. Some of his outstanding crew were also decorated, including a DSO to his navigator and a DFM to the flight engineer.
The national press in the UK and in Canada gave extensive coverage to the events, with headlines of “The Bull gets a U-boat” and “Sub smashers win 5 awards in big convoy fight”. An official Coastal Command report concluded, “the convoys were brought safely to port in the face of the most determined opposition yet encountered”.
Terence Malcolm Bulloch was born February 19 1916 in Lisburn, County Antrim and he attended Campbell College Belfast where he was the piper sergeant major in the Officer Training Corps and an excellent rugby player.
He joined the RAF on a short service commission in 1936 and trained as a pilot before flying Ansons in Coastal Command. By early 1940 he had transferred to No 206 Squadron to fly the twin-engined Hudson, patrolling the French, Dutch and Belgian coastal areas, including a number of hazardous trips during the evacuation of the BEF from Dunkirk. He attacked and damaged a German floatplane forcing it to land on the sea where he then bombed it. He also bombed the Channel ports being used in Hitler’s preparations to invade England in September 1940.
At the end of the year, he was awarded the DFC, which was soon followed by a mention in despatches.
Rather than have a rest, Bulloch joined the RAF’s Ferry Command in Canada and flew four-engine bombers across the Atlantic to British airfields. On one occasion, flying a B-17 Fortress, he took just over eight hours to reach Prestwick in Scotland, a record flight across the Atlantic at that time.
With the arrival of the B-24 Liberators, some of which Bulloch had delivered, No 120 Squadron was formed at Nutts Corner, Belfast and Bulloch joined as a flight commander.
On October 21 1941, Bulloch made the squadron’s first attack against a U-boat but abandoned it briefly to attack a shadowing Focke Wulf 200 Kondor aircraft that was shadowing the convoy he was protecting. The Kondor left the area rapidly and Bulloch resumed his hunt for the submarine. He spotted a periscope and dived to attack with three depth charges. The attack was inconclusive and he was credited with a “damaged”.
Over the next nine months of patient patrolling, Bulloch made six more U-boat sightings. He damaged U-59 as it returned to Brest and, two days later, he seriously damaged U-653, forcing it to return to Brest where it spent six months being repaired.
In September he was in Iceland and on October 12 he achieved his, and the squadron’s, first confirmed “kill”. His depth charges virtually blew U-597 out of the water and it was last seen tipping vertically before disappearing.
Bulloch’s attack on the U-boat U-597 which he sank
Over the next two weeks he sighted and attacked four more submarines and on November 5 he sighted another two. Attacking one of them from bow to stern, his aim was accurate and his depth charges destroyed U-132. He was awarded a Bar to his DFC, the citation commenting, “his power of leadership is outstanding”.
After his memorable sortie of December 8, he became an instructor but took the opportunity to test new equipment, including a battery of eight rockets fitted to the nose of his aircraft. He was attached to No 224 Squadron and, on July 8 1943, he was on patrol near Cape Finisterre when he spotted the conning tower of a submarine in the wake of a fishing boat. He attacked and fired his eight rockets in pairs from fifty feet. He pulled up and re-attacked with his depth charges. U-514 outbound to South African waters was destroyed with all hands.
At the end of his tour, Bulloch refused to be rested and he joined a long-range transport squadron flying converted Liberators across the Atlantic. Later he flew with a special RAF transport squadron on routes across the Pacific. Towards the end of the war, he was seconded to BOAC and after his release from the RAF in July 1946 he joined the airline as a captain. He had logged over 4,500 flying hours by the time the war ended.
Bulloch joined BOAC’s prestigious Trans-Atlantic service and was to spend almost all his long career with BOAC and British Airways (BA) flying over the ocean he knew so well. Initially he flew converted bombers and progressed to the elegant Constellation and the less elegant Stratocruiser. He shunned all offers to be a training captain or to take on managerial duties. He simply wanted to keep flying and he spent many hours at the controls of the jet-powered Boeing 707 before moving on to the Boeing 747.
Squadron Leader Terry Bulloch
On reaching BA’s retirement age, he had flown across the Atlantic 1,113 times. His passion for flying had not diminished so he joined the Portuguese National Airline (TAP) and took command of a Boeing 707 and continued to fly routes across the Atlantic. He finally retired in 1974.
Bulloch was a man of few words but he had a great determination to attack the enemy and, when not flying, which was rare, he spent many hours studying the enemy’s tactics and capabilities. He insisted on total dedication and professionalism from his crew and he was an inspiring captain. Some thought him too forthright and terse but his knowledge, courage and skill, not to mention his unique record, were greatly admired. He had little time for authority and less for paperwork and bureaucracy but he was a man of compelling honesty and integrity.
After so much travelling for almost 40 years, in retirement he devoted himself to his garden and to his local golf club at Denham.
A colleague wrote his biography, Coastal Ace (1986).
Terry Bulloch first wife, Joan, died in 1969. His second wife, Linda, who he married in 1974, survives him.
Squadron Leader Terry Bulloch, born February 19, 1916 , died November 13 2014
Heavens above! Emily Thornberry is the product of a working-class council estate. The true test of what she thinks about ordinary working people is to be found in the fact that after she joined the middle classes as a barrister, she joined the Labour Party, not the Conservatives. Her downfall, prompted by her tweeting a photo of a home decked in England flags, is her characteristically English wry sense of radical humour.
The “white van man’’ is a recent much-loved icon of an ironic English humour, which stretches from Hogarth to Mock the Week. Ms Thornberry’s image of the house, the van and the large St George flags is worthy of Hogarth. It signals her evident dismay that the voters of Rochester had fallen under the spell of a disingenuous, camouflaged, neo-Thatcherite tribute party, led by an enterprising former public schoolboy and former City trader, which has the £ sign in its title, suggesting a new country to be called “Poundland”.
Ms Thornberry was highly effective in dealing with Tory propagandists. Ordinary working- and lower-middle-class people need her badly to put the Labour Party case for a fairer and more rational Britain that represents their interests – something in which she clearly believes – rather than the pantomime pretences of Thatcherite Ukip.
On behalf of all working- and middle-class Britain I say, come back Emily Thornberry, we have need of thee!
In his self-congratulatory column in Saturday’s Independent, Nigel Farage seems to have confused listening to the concerns of voters with pandering to their prejudices.
The problem is that politicians lack the courage to tell people the truth: that immigration has generally been beneficial for this country, that immigrants, especially those from the EU, are net contributors to our coffers, and that leaving the EU would be an economic disaster.
Quite why people think that having a pint of beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other is qualification for high political office is beyond me.
While Mr Farage’s simplistic pronouncements may garner votes in the short term, in the long term they will leave voters feeling even more disillusioned, a situation that could be avoided were leaders of other parties prepared to engage in proper debate.
Amid all the discussions about which parties will gain or lose however many seats in next year’s election, and therefore who is likely to enter a coalition with whom, I have not yet encountered any discussion of the possibility that the only two-party coalition to command a majority in the House of Commons might be Labour and Tory.
What three-party coalition can be envisaged? Tory, SNP and anything? The SNP has already ruled out any deal with the Tories. Tory, Ukip and Lib Dem? You can’t see the last two together. Labour, Lib Dem and SNP seems at least plausible.
Analysis of the by-election in Rochester and Strood in terms of the whole electorate of the constituency shows that about two people in ten supported Mark Reckless, three in ten voted for other candidates and five in ten didn’t vote at all. This can hardly be construed as massive support for Ukip. Instead, it raises questions about the state of democracy in Britain today.
Maybe the Conservatives and Labour now regret their stance in the 2011 referendum on voting reform.
Ukip sells the dream that we can turn back time to a green and pleasant land when Spitfires ruled the skies, before we sold off our major industries, and when we reaped the resources of our empire. But it’s all gone. It’s not coming back.
I have just been listening to a phone-in on the radio. When a caller was asked why they supported Ukip, the reply was: “People in other EU countries don’t know what it is like to have their children in a classroom where no one speaks any English”. Quite.
Goring on Thames, Oxfordshire
More wind farms may mean fewer pylons Alistair Wood (letter, 22 November) says he doesn’t object to wind turbines as such, but does object to pylons. I am afraid the horse has bolted from that stable a long time ago.
The 275 and 400kV super-grid was built in the 1960s, as I recall. He may find it comforting that wind and other renewable sources are less intense sources of energy than conventional power stations and, if distributed widely, could reduce rather than increase the need for National Grid connections. Indeed, some countries are encouraging local renewable generation, which could reduce it yet further.
I am puzzled by the suggestion that green arguments come from “town and city dwellers”. As it happens, I live in a village considerably smaller than Llanymynech, but that’s not the point. Climate change (and most of the other negative impacts of fossil fuel and nuclear generation) hits the countryside worst, and country dwellers should be (and many are) at least as concerned as city dwellers.
The pattern that I do see is that the most extreme Nimbys are those who have moved from town to country for the nice views and don’t want them spoilt.
Bonuses merely incentivise risk
As a shareholder, I was recently invited to approve a remuneration package for a chief executive of £1.5m salary plus a bonus package that amounts to more than six times the annual salary. We need to bear in mind that the bankers and captains of industry who receive the bonuses are not entrepeneurs – they do not risk any of their own money, only ours.
Bonuses are wrong for three reasons. Firstly, most brain workers, including many of the employees of the company concerned, do not get offered a bonus and are expected to do their very best for their employer out of a sense of pride and integrity. If this incoming chief executive needs to be bribed with a massive bonus to behave likewise is he or she really the right person for the job?
Secondly, as leader of the team, how can the chief executive with a huge bonus demand, with a straight face, 100 per cent effort from his or her subordinates who are not on bonuses?
Worst of all, bonuses skew risk analysis. If the chief executive perceives that the only way he or she has a chance of making their bonus target is by taking wild risks, then there is no downside in taking them. If the risk fails, the chief executive is no worse off. Contrast the position of an entrepreneur who does risk his or her own money.
Yet we have seen our Tory Chancellor doing his very best to thwart a small effort by the European Union to curb this pernicious practice.
Wear your charitable giving with pride
Just about every week I disagree with Janet Street-Porter and today (22 November) is no exception. Every year I used to give to the Poppy Appeal but didn’t wear a poppy, but then the penny dropped – maybe people seeing my poppy would be reminded or prompted to give themselves.
She says: “Charitable giving has become another way of showing off, incorporating pointless records, wrist bands and ephemera.” Maybe that ephemera and showing off might just raise more money.
Safer Cars don’t mean safer driving
I read with interest the article relating to vehicle technology and safety improvements (“En route to even greater safety”, 18 November). The final paragraph observes: “Vehicle safety may have improved enormously, but there’s still a lot of work to do.”
I spent 30 years as a traffic patrol police officer, and have been involved in many aspects of road safety since, including speed awareness courses.
I would make the observation that the “work to do” should relate to our skills as a driver, the weakest link in the chain. Generally, our skill base is low, we seldom take additional driver training, we drive at inappropriate speeds, and fail to take responsibility for our actions.
By all means make our vehicles safer, but is it not time that more focus was placed upon the driver’s skills?
Did Canada get lost under the snow?
I see that the snow storms sweeping North America are only affecting the USA (“‘Historic’ early freeze sweeps across entire United States”, 20 November). Looking at your maps they stop at its northern border. I assume that the land above wasn’t affected? Or is that country of so little consequence it was not worth mentioning?
Sir, Richard Kemp argues that a lifting of the restriction on women serving in infantry units will damage the fighting capabilities of the armed forces (“Female soldiers just lack the killer instinct”, Nov 18). He presented a popular mythology regarding women and combat.
The move to overturn the ban on women is long overdue, particularly given the track record of service women in Iraq and Afghanistan, generously acknowledged by Kemp, as well as experiences from other nations. Airing such tired opinions highlights the similarity of this argument to unsubstantiated claims and stereotypes cited in previous objections to ending discrimination based on race and sexuality. Diversity in all forms represents a positive force for modern militaries.
The link between the armed forces and society can only be strengthened when the armed forces better reflect the society from which they are drawn.
It is beyond time to move the debate from whether women should be permitted to serve in all sectors of the military to how this can best be achieved.
The Ministry of Defence and the single services will need to foster a positive environment in order to recruit, motivate and retain the calibre of women they desire, and I recognise the difficulty in addressing the many impediments to integrating women into combat units.
The greatest challenge, however, lies with military commanders who will need to have the courage to overcome the prejudice and the bias of previous generations.
Research Fellow, Royal United Services Institute
Sir, Once again the matter of female military fighters in the British armed forces is raised without even Colonel Richard Kemp facing a most unpleasant fact: is anyone in policy making authority prepared to reflect on what would, particularly and undoubtedly happen (Islamic State style) to any captured females?
Female fighters may be cleared, formally or informally, to take their personal chances, but the effect on the fighting ability and morale of male force members — who will instinctively want to defend their female comrades — will be totally destructive.
Keep the ladies well away from the battlefield, please.
Sir, Colonel Richard Kemp’s concern that women lack the killer instinct does not seem to apply in Vienna where you report that an ice-cream parlour proprietor shot dead two lovers as they didn’t live up to her requirements (News, Nov 18).
Dr John Doherty
Sir, I was about to launch a broadside against Richard Kemp’s rampant sexism and sweeping generalisations, but faced with compelling evidence that many young men have far too much of it, I’m relieved that at least one of the sexes supposedly lacks the killer instinct.
Sir, If Colonel Richard Kemp is correct and frontline combat remains overwhelmingly based on hand-to-hand combat requiring the killer instinct found only in “few women”, then how does gender relate to the skills needed to direct air strikes? I am sure there are examples to support his view but are they really the general picture?
Sir, Richard Kemp’s article is an insult to the memory of those women of the Second World War who fought in the SOE, in the Resistance and at Stalingrad.
Dr Shirley Summerskill
Sir, A potential female soldier at interview when asked if she could kill a man, replied “Eventually”.
Sir, For proof that some females have the killer instinct, just go to court martial records. There you will find examples of female service personnel who have been convicted of inflicting actual and grievous bodily harm (and worse) on their male colleagues.
Waxwings stay ahead of bad weather
Jack Hill/Times Newspapers
Waxwings stay ahead of bad weather Jack Hill/Times Newspapers
Published at 12:01AM, November 24 2014
The annual invasion of waxwings from Scandinavia is beginning. These birds, about the size of a starling, get their name from a red blob like sealing-wax that they have on their wing. But this is not their most conspicuous feature, which is their jaunty, swept-back crest. They are also striking in other ways, with pinkish plumage, a black mask and bib, yellow bars next to the red blob on their wings, and a yellow-tipped tail. They are also very tame birds, coming down to feed on cotoneaster and other berries in the bushes that adorn roundabouts and supermarket car parks. They gobble up the berries very fast. Only a few of them, mostly ones and twos, have been seen so far, and these have been in Scotland and the eastern counties of England, though some had reached Wiltshire by yesterday. In the winter of 2008-09, there was an enormous invasion of them, which reached most of the country. A survey has been conducted at supermarkets in some years to see which had the most. Morrisons has generally been the winner. It is too early to say if there will be enough waxwings this winter to make a poll worth while.
Sir, After his party was beaten in Rochester, Matthew Parris (Opinion, Nov 22) again demonstrates that he has the nasty party instincts at heart. To effectively accuse 16,867 Ukip voters in Rochester of being identifiable with fascist blackshirts (there was even a picture of Mosley) is deeply offensive. I lost close family fighting Hitler’s fascists as did many in the Medway town’s front line.
Knowl Hill, Berks
Sir, Labour continues to fight a class war while its core supporters are more concerned about loss of national identity (leading article, Nov 22).
This has as much to do with the influence of Brussels as immigration, and Ukip has exploited this to great effect. Emily Thornberry’s tweet merely makes matters worse.
Sir, Why is Nigel Farage always photographed with or near a glass of beer? How about a nice cup of tea for a change?
Estelle D Davis
Sir, Anybody having difficulty in pronouncing “Mx” (report, Nov 17, and letters) has not spent time reading Superman. I remember these comics in the 1960s, when there was a trickster from a different dimension called “Mr Mxyzptlk”. It gets worse. The only way to send him back to his own dimension was to trick him to say his name backwards. “Kltpzyxm”.
Dr Nigel Heard
Great Barrow, Chester
Sir, Daniel Finkelstein’s son is certainly many decades younger than me so I was puzzled by his reported use of the word “skills” to express approbation (Opinion, Nov 19). In my boyhood in the early 1940s “skill” — in the singular — did the job of the all-purpose “cool” relied on by today’s teenagers to express admiration of possessions and achievements. Was it local to my circle of friends? And what other such terms have been and gone over the years?
Sir, If M Hollande’s “discreet” dalliance merits two pages, and a leader column too (Nov 22), it is alarming to contemplate the consequences had he been indiscreet.
Lindsay GH Hall
Sir, You ask “How does Monsieur le President do it?” (Leader, Nov 22). The same way as our very own Prince of Wales did it.
The Government is not fulfilling its National Plan for Music
6:59AM GMT 23 Nov 2014
SIR – In 2011 the Government announced an inspiring initiative, the National Plan for Music, to ensure all children, whatever their background, would get a good music education and the opportunity to learn an instrument.
However, this promise is not being met and recent studies show serious cause for concern. A sector-wide report from the exam board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) revealed that 40 per cent of British children from more disadvantaged backgrounds who have never played an instrument said they had no opportunity to learn at school. A Paul Hamlyn Foundation review this summer found that in primary schools, only half of music teachers surveyed said they had the necessary resources. Research for James Rhodes’s Don’t Stop the Music television series chimed with these reports, and identified significant problems with teacher training, funding and progression opportunities – issues often raised by the sector.
Music has proven benefits for children – building confidence, teamwork and discipline, and encouraging improvements in literacy and numeracy. But music can easily be undervalued in an already crowded curriculum – a situation worsened by the lack of attention paid to it in regular Ofsted inspections.
The Government must fulfil its commitment and end the inequality of opportunity in school music.
Concert Pianist and Champion of the Don’t Stop the Music campaign
Professor Colin Lawson
Director, Royal College of Music
General Secretary, National Association of Head Teachers
Julian Lloyd Webber
Founder of In Harmony
CEO, Prince’s Foundation for Children & the Arts
Chair, The Music Education Council
Principal, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance
Professor David Saint
Principal, Birmingham Conservatoire
Director of Learning and Participation, Sage Gateshead
Professor Joe Wilson
Director of Curriculum, Leeds College of Music
Chief Executive, Incorporated Society of Musicians
General Manager, The UK Association for Music Education – Music Mark
Chief Executive and Artistic Director, National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain
Managing Director, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Music Director and Principal Conductor, London Chamber Orchestra
Artistic Director and Founder, National Orchestra for All
Chief Executive, EMI Music Sound Foundation
Dr Mary Bousted
General Secretary, Association of Teachers and Lecturers
Maestro Vladimir Ashkenazy
Bob and Roberta Smith, Artist
Professor Graham F Welch
Chair of Music Education, Institute of Education
Kevin Brennan MP (Lab)
Shadow Minister for Schools
Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Classical Music
Member, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Music Education
The EU’s political crisis; the use of medicinal methadone; the choices facing migrants in Calais; hidden cost of payday advertisements; and Sainsbury’s Christmas spirit
7:00AM GMT 23 Nov 2014
SIR – Juergen Maier, the chief executive of Siemens UK, says membership of the EU is good for business, but his reasoning appears to be as fallacious as that of business leaders who once forecast economic disaster if Britain failed to join the Economic and Monetary Union.
Despite Mr Maier’s attempts to downplay the burden of EU regulation, the economist Professor Tim Congdon estimated last year that it was costing British business £150 billion annually. Jeremy Warner observes that the EU is failing – paralysed by political crisis and a malfunctioning monetary union.
Shouting from the sidelines will not bring European prosperity, says Mr Maier. Nor it, seems, will the EU.
D R Taylor
23 Nov 2014
SIR – Mr Maier implies that, if we were to leave the EU, British exporters would have to worry about “complying with 28 different reels of red tape”. However, he also asserts that Norway is able to trade with the EU through a “fax democracy”, implementing Brussels regulations from a distance.
Of course, Norway has no say in the formulation of those regulations, but, based on Britain’s inability to resist the EU’s relentless onslaught on the City of London, one wonders what having any real influence actually looks like.
Norway and Switzerland have struck deals with the EU because they have things the EU needs – fish and rail and road transit routes, respectively. But Britain’s trump cards are even stronger. Apart from being the only practical transit route for most trade between the Republic of Ireland and continental Europe – with roads currently provided toll-free, courtesy of British taxpayers – Britain is also the EU’s biggest export market.
If, as we are constantly reminded, three million British jobs depend on our EU membership, how many more on the continent must depend on Britain – because we buy far more from them than they buy from us? I’m sure they won’t want to upset that apple cart in a hurry.
SIR – Is there no end to EU interference? Mr Maier thinks the union is good for business, but this cannot be the case when one has to read thousands of pages of regulations. Small businesses stay small to remain exempt and avoid the hassle.
SIR – I was pleased to read that a great number of British businesses wish to renegotiate the terms of the European Union.
Those in business know that in order to achieve success they need to be better than their competitors. Therefore, they also need the freedom to accomplish this. Being tied to a large organisation like the EU, with its various obstructions and petty rules, prevents real competition.
Unless we leave the EU we will fail, as so many of the businesses in Europe are doing currently. Let us remember that trading with other countries is one thing, but to be ruled by them is something else entirely.
B E Norton
Royal Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire
SIR – Christopher Booker – one of our Britain’s best investigative journalists – reveals a curious dichotomy between his call to leave the European Union and, on the same page, his mention of parents who have turned to Brussels in their hour of need, claiming that their children were wrongly removed from them.
According to Tatyana Zdanoka, a member of the European Parliament committee that recently heard evidence of such cases, Britain is “unique in Europe in the secrecy of its family courts”.
The EU is about much more than economic benefits; it is also a partnership of shared social values. The case of family courts is a poignant example of this.
Hallwood Green, Gloucester
Tax should be about percentage of income
SIR – It is all very well indicating that 0.01 per cent contribute 4.2 per cent of income tax, whereas the poorest 9 million contribute less than 4 per cent. But this, of course, ignores National Insurance, VAT, fuel tax and other unfair imposts, such as hospital car park charges, which bear down most on the 9 million.
It’s not what you pay, so much as what you are left with to live upon, that counts. If you are earning £2.7 million and are left with £1.35 million then you can still live pretty well, despite a 50 per cent tax levy.
This is not a plea for higher taxes necessarily, just for more balance and fairness on all sides of the political spectrum.
Asylum in France
French police escort migrants back to the camp in Calais
SIR – The executive director of Doctors of the World UK confirms that migrants in Calais would rather perish than return to their country of origin (Letters, November 16). There is a simple solution: they should apply for asylum in France where they are now resident.
France has many historic ties with the Middle East and was given a mandate for Syria after the First World War.
SIR – The Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, urges the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) to look again at its findings on rehabilitation and encourage addicts to “practise abstinence” rather than being “parked for years on methadone”.
The ACMD recently advised against putting a time limit on prescriptions of opiate substitutions, while emphasising the need for patients to receive talking therapies and other recovery support.
For many people who are dependent on heroin, medication like methadone can help them to become stable enough to rebuild relationships, improve their physical and mental health, stop committing crime and seek employment.
Evidence strongly suggests that imposing an artificial time limit on opiate substitution medication would lead to significant unintended consequences, such as relapse and more deaths from overdose.
Overcoming addiction is never easy or straightforward, nor does “recovery” look the same for everyone.
Dr Marcus Roberts
Chief Executive, DrugScope
SIR – Your article on the inability of courts to pass appropriate sentences for careless driving will strike a chord with most lawyers.
The problem lies in the way politicians react to loud campaigns by pressure groups instead of thinking things through. Courts impose prison terms on people whose momentary lapse – of which any of us could be guilty – leads to a death, whereas those guilty of seriously careless driving get away with a fine simply because, by sheer chance, no one dies.
If we punished according to the degree of bad driving rather than the often arbitrary outcome, we might restore some faith in this aspect of criminal justice.
GCHQ is no Bletchley
SIR – David Blunkett invokes the spirit of the Bletchley Park code-breakers in support of the GCHQ’s call for more co-operation from communications companies. This is a misguided comparison at best.
Bletchley Park workers decoded field military signals leading to real tactical military advantage at a time of world war and potential invasion. In peacetime, GCHQ monitors all of our phone calls, browsing data and emails, without parliamentary oversight.
Even so, it has been taken by surprise by all recent major geopolitical events, including the Arab Spring, the Russian resurgence and the rise of Isil.
P D Kirk
Payday advertising damages families
SIR – According to a survey by the Children’s Society, one in three children aged 10-17 sees payday loan advertisements regularly. These make borrowing money seem easy and fun to children, which increases the pressure on parents to take out high-interest loans.
As credit repayments take up a larger proportion of income, families can find themselves cutting back on essentials. Children can suffer anxiety and bullying as a result of their family’s financial problems.
Children should learn about borrowing and debt from their school and family, not from irresponsible payday loan advertising. The law should be changed to ban these advertisements from television and radio before the 9pm watershed.
When the Consumer Rights Bill is debated in the House of Lords this week, we hope fellow peers will support our amendment.
Rt Rev Timothy Thronton
Bishop of Truro
Lord Mitchell (Lab)
Lord Alton (Crossbench)
SIR – We have many beautiful cathedrals and churches, some in lovely settings. These, with their wonderful history, their celebration of special occasions and their music and hymns, should be the stars of BBC’s Songs of Praise (Letters, November 16). The splendid Remembrance Sunday service from Aldershot, featured on the programme, was an excellent example of this.
Please can we have our Songs of Praise back, undiluted?
R M Watkinson
Far from Ghent
SIR – Perhaps Alan Titchmarsh’s article (The heart of the matter, Lifestyle, November 16) best illustrates the dangers of learning poetry by heart without looking at the content.
The “Aix” he recalls from Robert Browning’s poem is of course Aix-la-Chapelle, not Aix-en-Provence.
SIR – During a practice with my barbershop acappella chorus group, prior to performing at the Birmingham Symphony Hall (Letters, November 16), we were given one last piece of advice: to take care with our diet during the week before the performance.
We were told that if anybody broke wind while we were on stage, it would be heard at the back of the hall.
SIR – There is some criticism of Sainsbury’s four-minute Christmas television advert, which is based on the 1914 game of football played in no-man’s-land between young combatants from opposing trenches during the First World War.
Despite its underlying commercial purpose, surely its theme of peace, friendship and giving is to be applauded – particularly at Christmas.
Live and let diet
SIR – If one has to cut down on calories, sugar, salt, fat and alcohol, why would one want to live to 120?
Donald A Wroe
Sir, – On December 2nd, we are being asked by our union to go on strike relating to something that we are already practicing in our school. St Joseph’s College, Lucan, is a pilot school for the Junior Cycle. Over the past three years we have not only changed our approach to student learning but also introduced ongoing assessment for students at Junior and Leaving Certificate levels. If I were to assess the new changes according to the way we give feedback to our students, I would say “Two Stars and a Wish”.
Star one: Ongoing assessment gives immediate positive feedback to students in September and throughout the term. The teacher can assess the learning and any student who is struggling with learning can be helped. Confidence grows and the outlook of the student improves.
Star two: Students must be responsible for their learning – they learn about deadlines, drafting and redrafting and self-evaluation. Students are so engaged in learning that discipline problems no longer feature.
Wish: Teachers need more time to collaborate on assessment and the work that this involves. The day of taking a bundle of exams home to correct by yourself has now passed.
I trust teachers assessing the students; the students trust their teachers. The parents have faith in the teachers; teachers are professional and expert. We also trust the State Examinations Commission, which will monitor this assessment. We have waited for decades for change in assessment. Should memory be the only skill we continue to value in our students? – Yours, etc,
St Joseph’s College,
Lucan, Co Dublin.
Sir, – All that teachers seek, within the complex set of relationships which frames their professional lives, is the gold standard of external assessment which removes even the slightest risk of their being suspected of conferring any unfair advantage or disadvantage on any student at an important moment in their life. – Yours, etc,
Donabate, Co Dublin.
Sir, – We wish to make it clear that while the second-level teacher unions are seeking to maintain State certification and external assessment, we are in favour of changes to enhance the Junior Cycle and support the introduction of new forms of assessment, as long as these assessment components are externally marked.
We agree with the Minister for Education and Skills that project work, portfolio work, practical work and other methods of evaluating student learning are vital elements of a modern assessment system. We also agree that broadening assessment in this way may help to reduce the pressure associated with having only a terminal written exam. However, in order to maintain the integrity of our State certificate, we believe all State exams, whether written or practical, should be externally assessed.
Forcing teachers to grade their own students for State certification will have a negative impact on the student-teacher relationship and will lead to inconsistencies between schools, thereby undermining educational standards nationally.
Currently, a number of Junior Certificate subjects have practical exam components that are externally assessed. For example, the Junior Cert science exam contains a significant practical element which is externally assessed. Other subjects such as CSPE (Civic, Social and Political Education), home economics, music and art also include significant practical elements which are externally assessed. This means that students’ work in these exams is subjected to a rigorous and standardised external assessment process overseen by the State Examinations Commission which ensures consistency, fairness and objectivity for every student.
Just like parents and students, teachers want an improved education experience for our Junior Cycle students. However, teachers are deeply concerned about the negative impact of the Minister’s current proposals. Such far-reaching change cannot be easily undone, so we must get it right from the start. We regret that we must resort to strike action in order to stand up for education. However, we have exhausted all other avenues to date.
We believe a solution exists which meets the need for improvement of the Junior Cycle, but which protects education standards, is student-centred, and which does not undermine the integrity of our State exams system. – Yours, etc,
Thomas McDonagh House,
Orwell Road,Dublin 6.
Sir, – Senator John Crown has asked Minister of State Kathleen Lynch TD to look into the recent decision by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI) to increase the retention fee paid by nurses (“2,000 nurses, midwives protest over rise in registration fee”, November 18th).
This increase means the fee has risen by 80 per cent in just two years. Nursing has been the only health profession to be targeted for such an increase.
Having been a nurse for many years, working both in Ireland and abroad, I am used to paying the annual retention fees that allowed me to practice as a registered nurse.
However, when working in the UK, and the US, I was not only expected to pay my retention fee, but also to provide evidence of my ongoing relevant education and competence.
I understood that ensuring I and all of my nursing and midwifery colleagues were competent to practice was the key reason for paying retention fees, and we were happy to pay for this service.
However, the NMBI requests the annual fee but does not check the competence of the nurses and midwives they register as regards being fit to practice.
Rather, they use fees to hold fitness-to-practice inquiries, after a professional incident has occurred. A case of too little too late. I am astonished that the professional competence assurance scheme, which is a statutory duty of the board that was set up by legislation three years ago, has still not been implemented.
Why would nurses or midwives feel they should pay anything for this lack of service? –Yours, etc,
Sir, – This week Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney, in answer to a Dáil question from Maureen O’Sullivan TD, dismissed the introduction of mechanical lure coursing as a humane alternative to using timid wild hares as bait for the chasing greyhounds. The hare coursers have told him that it doesn’t work because the greyhounds, they claim, lose interest after following the lure “once or twice”.
On the say-so of the hare coursers, Mr Coveney will not countenance this humane alternative to hare coursing, which does in fact work, and says he has no plans to ban live hare coursing.
The coursers’ claim that greyhounds will not consistently follow a mechanical lure is totally absurd, as presently greyhounds pursue a mechanical lure, time after time, on the greyhound tracks. And in Australia, where live hare coursing has been banned for decades, mechanical lure coursing is now successfully used. And there have been drag coursing events held here in Ireland, one of which was in Listry, Co Killarney, in March 2013, where we filmed greyhounds enthusiastically following the drag. We sent this footage to the Minister, clear and unequivocal evidence that drag works successfully, but our evidence it seems fell not only on deaf ears, but closed eyes. So there is absolutely no excuse for the barbarity that is live hare coursing in this day and age. The Australians and others accepted the ban and moved on to mechanical lure coursing, and the sky didn’t fall in.
The ban on smoking in public places wasn’t countenanced at first and there was much resistance but today nobody yearns for smoke-filled pubs.
Replacing live hare coursing with a mechanical lure would find favour with the vast majority who respect and cherish our Irish hare and who would be more than happy to see the end of a despicable blood sport that brings shame on our country. – Yours, etc,
Against Blood Sports,
PO Box 88,
Mullingar, Co Westmeath.
First published: Mon, Nov 24, 2014, 01:04
Sir, – Ian Kenneally’s excellent article “Press was intimidated in War of Independence” (Weekend, November 15th) has outlined the intimidation suffered by the Irish Independent during the War of Independence. May I point out that its great rival in the daily newspaper market at that time, the Freeman’s Journal, was also the victim of republican violence? This was arguably an even greater outrage since it occurred after the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty and was clearly designed to subvert the democratic will of Dáil Éireann in regard to the Treaty.
On March 29th, 1922 (in the hiatus between the signing of the Treaty and the outbreak of the Civil War), the Freeman’s Journal’s printing plant was destroyed by a raiding party of anti-Treatyite IRA because they objected to an article about a convention of their military council held two days earlier. The Freeman responded in a spirited fashion. A much reduced version of the newspaper was produced on Gestetner machines as a stop-gap in the following weeks, until it resumed normal production on April 22th.
With hindsight, many anti-Treatyites came to recognise that it had been a bad mistake to attempt to suppress the Freeman. The effect of that and other similar occurrences was to associate the anti-Treaty side with military dictatorship and censorship – to give the impression that, as the prominent republican Todd Andrews later wrote, people “were liable to be pushed around at the whim of young IRA commanders’”. This tended to strengthen popular support for the Free State government.
The destruction of the Freeman’s plant cast a long shadow. As late as 1976, in a speech about the Criminal Law Bill introduced by the then Fine Gael-Labour coalition government, the parliamentary secretary to the taoiseach, John Kelly, referred to it when dismissing a claim by Charles Haughey that a section of the Bill could give rise to press censorship. That claim, Kelly opined, was “brazen unscrupulousness” – and then he said this: “I may recall that on only one occasion since the Treaty was a newspaper literally put out of action because its politics were unacceptable – in 1922, when the printing works of the Freeman’s Journal were smashed up . . . This thoroughly fascist act was not committed by anyone in the Cosgrave tradition, but by the ‘Republicans’ from whom Mr Haughey’s party proudly trace their descent.” – Yours, etc,
FELIX M LARKIN,
Sir, – Conradh na Gaeilge is concerned about the lack of Irish in the official Ireland 2016 website. Its criticism would be more appropriately directed at the ghosts of the signatories of the 1916 Proclamation.
Apart from the perfunctory cúpla focal in the heading, Poblacht na hÉireann, the document is entirely in English. Only two of the seven signatories, Seán Mac Diarmada and Eamonn Ceannt, have their names in Irish. The president of the provisional government, who was the most prolific language revival advocate, signs himself “P.H. Pearse”, and this is the form he uses in the bulletins issued during Easter Week.
But then, English has always been the predominant language of Irish nationalism. – Yours, etc,
JOHN A MURPHY,
of Irish History,
University College Cork.
Sir, – I would never have viewed myself as a political protester, but rather as a human rights protester. I protest when I see injustice.
This Government and previous ones have consistently hammered the less fortunate, the vulnerable, the sick and disabled people. These groups have finally declared “enough is enough”.
The water protesters are ordinary people who have woken up. They see capitalism favouring only the rich and foresaw Irish water being privatised to favour the top echelons of society.
It is the water protesters who have “seen the light” and it behoves any government of whatever hue to take notice when people say “enough is enough”. – Yours, etc,
Dr MARGARET KENNEDY,
The culture of our schools and the teaching profession have changed dramatically over the last 15 years.
Second-level education is focusing on the life skills that our young people will require in the future – resilience, self-management and management of information, among other things. We are trying to move away from a ‘schooling’ which promotes over-dependency among students to an education which promotes independent learning and more student engagement.
To that end, teachers are engaging in new teaching methodologies, new technologies, curriculum reform, inspections, school development, evaluation and improvement initiatives.
Schools are looking at different ways of tracking student performance and learning outcomes. Focused opportunities for continuous professional development are more widely available and teachers are engaged in whole-school planning and development. We have begun teaching the new specification in Junior Cycle English.
A change in our approach to assessment is part of the change in culture and is happening on the ground in classrooms in primary and secondary schools. It is teacher led, and it too is contributing to the growing professionalism of teaching, and to improved learning outcomes for students. It is in line with best international practice.
It is a truly vibrant and dynamic time to be involved in education. Our classrooms are active, fun learning environments – different in many ways to when I started my teaching career.
The concerns of the teaching unions need to be addressed but I hope that they can meet the challenges of these new and most welcome developments in Irish education and not allow them to be bogged down in negative discourse.
Rathgar, Dublin 6
Have the helicopter ready, Enda
It’s 25 years since the Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu went to the balcony of his party headquarters to address his people, and finally realised that they weren’t waving in joyful support, but in rage. Even then, as his summary court martial was under way, and later as he was taken to be shot, he was utterly convinced that the liberators, and firing squad in particular, were in big trouble for defying the almighty leader.
Enda Kenny is no Ceausescu, but he is desperately out of touch with a people that aren’t willing to bow down and kiss his feet everywhere he goes.
‘The best little country in the world to be rich and tax avoidant’, is a political philosophy that seems to have comforted Enda Kenny as he patrols the stock exchanges and glossy high-tech company product launches of the world. But, back home, under the austerity balcony made by this coalition government, the general population are seething with anger. They can’t and won’t be silenced .
Enda won’t face a literal firing squad here, but he should get his metaphorical helicopter ready. The people are not cheering Enda, they’re enraged and they won’t be going away.
Lisdowney, Co Kilkenny
Coalition is still drowning
The Government is drowning in the water charge controversy. People are not fooled.
Why did the Government not just fix the leaky pipes instead of installing meters? It is not bothered by the wastage, be it wastage of water or wastage of money. It is clear to the people that Irish Water is a vehicle to raise money to pay back bondholders.
It is also being set up so the Government can raise funds by privatising this utility in the future. This is perhaps the greatest fear amongst the people.
Perhaps the best way of commemorating the 1916 Rising would be to enshrine the protection of the water supply in the constitution of a country that was so hard fought for at that time!
Malahide Road, Dublin
Voting in SF will reverse progress
If the people of Ireland think they have problems because of water and property taxes, well I am sorry to say they have an even greater problem after the recent opinion poll.
How in the name of whatever god or no god could 22pc of people think we would be better off with a Sinn Fein government?
Can any of you 22pc tell me what would be better about Sinn Fein if they were in power?
This is a party with no realistic politics and an ambiguous point of view on the investigation of sexual abuse (and does this mean that, by default, the 22pc of the population who expressed support for Sinn Fein in that poll hold the same view?)
This is a party with no room for dissent – no member of the party has ever publicly questioned Gerry Adams about his membership of the IRA.
Mr Adams must be laughing at the Irish people and the fact that he can behave in the way he has over the years, and even more so in the last 12 months, with all of his ridiculous comments, eg his remark about the old IRA holding a gun to the head of the editor of the Irish Independent.
I for one would not live in the country under the present Sinn Fein leadership.
When you are asked your opinion by a market research interviewer, remember this is a serious question – not “who do you think will win ‘The X Factor’” – so please answer it seriously .
Do the people who expressed a preference for Sinn Fein in the poll really think Gerry Adams is a future leader? Would they send him to Europe to discuss our economy with Angela Merkel?
We would be a laughing stock.
Our economy was in ruins in 2011. Now it’s in a far better place. We have all suffered, and continue to suffer a bit, but we are in a far better position now and the future is brighter.
Even the unions have realised that, as they have started talking about pay increases.
Please, people of Ireland, don’t blow all the good work now.
Sinn Fein does not deserve to be anywhere near Government.
Name and address with Editor
Don’t hike deposits – cap loans
It would be lunacy to ask potential buyers to amass a deposit of 20pc for a house, but, in the case of an apartment, the buyer would have to save at least 25pc.
This would force young people to move further away from the city and would unfairly depress apartment prices.
Instead of asking for crazy deposits, why not limit the amount loaned? If this action was taken, it’s likely that the market would correct itself over time.
Instead of asking for 20pc/25pc deposit, ask for 10pc (on a house or apartment) and instead of offering the couple €300k, offer them €250k, which they will be under less pressure to repay. The proposed system is favouring couples who have access to family money.
They will always have an advantage, but it does not give the rest of the young prospective homebuyers any hope.
Joe Schmidt for Taoiseach
I would just like to say thank you to Joe Schmidt for what he has done for Irish rugby. I would like to wish him a speedy recovery too, and would like ask if, when the World Cup is over, would he be prepared to run for Taoiseach?
T G Gavin
Dalkey, Co Dublin